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As you will surmise from the synopsis, this 1947 Wilding/Neagle film
portrays the life of a well-to-do family, the Courtneys, from
1899-1945.This covers the period in English history from the Boer war,
first and second world wars and how it affects the military Courtney
family, their son, grandson and the women who marry into the
family.Dame Anna Neagle doesn't consistently maintain her Irish colleen
accent from the humble Irish maid in 1899 to when she becomes Lady
Courtney.Her accent is rather the product of the 1930s drama school of
stock Irish accents, actresses for the use of.It is rather a relief to
us all when she can dispense with it and adopt her usual manner of
speaking as it looks rather an effort for her.The film does however
give Dame Anna the chance to show off her skill at dancing and reminded
me a little of Noel Coward's "Cavalcade" as a troop of vignettes
through a family history.As for Michael, I was humorously intrigued how
he managed to retain his grand house in Curzon Street W.1. and still
live in the grand manner, despite "losing his shirt" as a stockbroker
in the great credit crash of October 29th 1929.He told Anna he would
have to sell the house to pay off creditors - a weakness in the story.
One similarity with "Piccadilly Incident" (1946) was that in both films there was an enforced separation of Michael and Anna, the former through war and this film through social prejudice.The present film has a rather better outcome for Dame Anna.It is also quite a long film at 111 minutes and not easy to find in the UK.I had to win it from a Canadian rare dealer on eBay.Lovers of the many Wilding/Neagle films will be absorbed by this historical canter through the Courtney clan.I rated it 7/10.
Anna Neagle plays a lovely Irish colleen the daughter of maid Ethel
O'Shea who works in the house of The Courtneys Of Curzon Street. Anna
works there as well and around the turn of the last century she falls
in love with Michael Wilding who is the heir to the place and about to
embark on an army career with service in the Boer War.
Naturally this raises some eyebrows and The Courtneys Of Curzon Street deal with class differences, not as pronounced in America as across the pond back in those days. Which might have lessened the box office potential here in America as I'm sure many in the audience just didn't get it.
Not that this is a bad film by any means, in fact it is probably one of Anna Neagle's best films. Anna who endures a long separation puts herself on stage and we get to see her sing and dance. Interesting how the people who snubbed her before when she becomes a star they kowtow pretty good to Lady Courtney.
The film covers 45 years of British history from the Boer War to the end of World War II and the travails and heartaches of the Courtney family is set against the backdrop of the real events of the time. One thing that was fascinating is that in the beginning Neagle has a full blown Irish brogue, but as the years go by she starts affecting distinct upper class speech. By the end of the film you would hardly recognize her humble origins.
The Courtneys Of Curzon Street bears no small resemblance to Noel Coward's Cavalcade, but it hardly has Coward's wit. Still you'll find it an entertaining film and an entertaining social history.
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